Hold the applause on liturgical abuse

8:26 AM

It's not a SHOW, it's the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass...

Hold the Applause: Confessions of a Conflicted Clapper
July 22nd, 2008 by Mary Anne Moresco

Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.

The above words were penned by our Holy Father Pope Benedict the XVI, (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) on p. 198 of his book entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy. I first read this book before our Holy Father became pope. The book did three things to me. First, it made me acutely aware that there was much about the meaning of the liturgy to which I was blind. Second, it deepened my love for the liturgy. Third, it put me in conflict with respect to how I needed to approach Mass. One area of conflict was in clapping at Mass.

Having read Cardinal Ratzinger’s words on clapping, I wondered how I could continue to clap at Mass in good conscience. As one who has been to Masses where there was clapping for just about everyone, from musicians, lectors, altar servers and church decorators to priests giving homilies and lay people giving testimonies, I began to wonder why we clap at Mass at all.

Some liturgical clapping proponents claim we clap because Psalm 47:1 tells us to clap: “All you peoples, clap your hands….“ But we Catholics do not interpret scripture independently. We look to Holy Mother Church, and her 2,000 years of teaching, to ensure our interpretation is authentic. The documents on the liturgy (the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Liturgiam Authenticum, and Redemptionis Sacrmentum) do not call for clapping at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They call for reverence.

Rome wants irreverence at Mass to a stop. “…let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence…” (Redemptionis Sacramentum 183). [ Why such disobedience to Rome? Why **so much liturgical abuse**? - my comment] The key question is this: is clapping a reverent action, or does clapping break the liturgical spirit of reverence which Rome is calling us to protect?

Cardinal Francis Arinze is prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome. When His Eminence speaks about the liturgy, our ears should perk up and listen. He stated that “…when we come to Mass we don’t come to clap. We don’t come to watch people, to admire people. We want to adore God, to thank Him, to ask Him pardon for our sins, and to ask Him for what we need.” [Adoremus Bulletin; Vol. IX, no.7, Oct. 2003]

I am a Roman Catholic. I don’t make up the rules for my faith or the Catholic Mass as I go along. I receive them from God, through His church, as a gift. I have faith in God, His church and its teachings. I believe God reveals His truths through those teachings. For that reason I want to honor them.

To honor those teachings, and thus honor God, I had resolved at Mass to hold the applause when I was there. Yet, I must confess that sometimes when everyone around me is clapping, or when someone stands up at Mass and asks me to applaud for someone else, I still succumb to clapping — albeit half-heartedly.

In the midst of the applause, our Holy Father’s words spin sadly around in my head, thus causing me grief and making for conflicted claps. The hands that clap at Mass these days are distracted and bewildered hands that would find a sublime joy if only they might be permitted to simply fold themselves in prayer to our God on that one special hour of the week devoted to Him. This is an ongoing struggle in my life that revisits itself often on Sunday. But please don’t clap for me. Instead, I ask “you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

© Copyright 2008 Catholic Exchange
Mary Anne Moresco writes from Monmouth County, New Jersey.

There is no clapping at The Latin Mass...

** There is some inflammatory language at this link, however the table of violations with links to the relevant church documents and Canon Law citations are straightforward and unemotional facts.

Catholics United for the Faith
has also discussed this, as has the entertaining StuffCatholicsLike.


Catherine said...

We always clap at Mass after the baptism of a baby! That has never seemed irreverent to me. I'm excited to find your blog because Totus Tuus is our family motto! My husband and I have it inscribed inside our wedding bands.

Journey of Truth said...

Our parish claps after Baptisms, too. I don't feel that is misplaced. However, to clap for the choir (we do often) and/or on mother's/father's day or to sing happy birthday to parishoners . . . I find that really obnoxious. Print it in the bulletin!

Jessica said...

Great post! And your right, I have never been to a Latin Mass, Baptism, or even Ordination, where there was clapping!

+JMJ+ said...

Yes, I have seen it done in parishes at Baptisms too. We often get used to bad habits, but our Holy Father's words are quite clear to me now.

We are so lucky to have a Magisterium, teaching body. Let's pray our pastors lead us with obedience towards it.

It is also our responsibility to learn the beautiful WHYS of our faith...in this case, because the Mass is about the Holy Sacrifice and we don't want to take our focus off the Trinity. Let's clap and toast after Mass, at the party, where the baby is rightfully the center of attention. At the altar our reverence should be to our Lord, truly present, and never off Him. This is what the Pope has said here and the Magisterium of our faith teaches.

Melissa said...

I myself am a very Charismatic Catholic. I believe worship should be driven by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A faith lived by an outward expression. (see: http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP961109.HTM )

I do believe in the respect of the mass and God's presence there. But I do not believe God would object to welcoming a new child into the Church with clapping. I also do not believe that clapping during mass in praise and worship would be objected to. Even Pope John Paul II showed favor upon Charismatics who clap, raise hands, speak in tounges and more during mass. I used this sort of praise during masses at the Steubenville Conferences. It's certainly uplifting.

Also, when others clap during mass for a couple who has been married for 50+ years, or for newly weds, that is only applauding God's love in that sacrament and encouraged by the priests/deacons. Any sacrament is worthy of such praise!

On the other hand, clapping for speakers, birthdays, musicians, etc can wait till later. Having a dad who is a Deacon, I know that the speakers, homilists, and musicians would appreciate a kind word in the gathering space after mass rather than an applause during mass.

What a discussion piece! I could say more but wont...

Doug and Elizabeth said...

This is a very necessary post, I posted it a few weeks ago. Liturgical abuse is rampant and we must know our Church well enough to see these and make a change. You and me both as far as wonderment as how these abuses started to begin with!

As for clapping after Baptisms, special anniversaries, etc, these should NEVER be brought to the forefront during the celebration of Mass (which should ALWAYS be capitalized when referring to as the Eucharistic celebration). We can go a bit further in saying this is where veils come into play....taking the attention off the woman's crown of glory, her hair, and to Christ's glory at the Altar.

Clapping is for after Mass during the announcements, possibly.

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